It's certainly a stupid question, but maybe…
On GNU/Linux, is there a way to display an image on a machine without X server installed (I mean something better than libcaca).
Or if not possible, temporary launching an X server with a simple image viewer which stop when closing this viewer 🤔

I would like to test to work only with a terminal, but sometime, you need to see an image

There are some alternatives for seeing images in TUI, such as viu and fim.

@olamundo yes, cool, fim works on local tty and viu is useful thru ssh !

ImageMagick is coming to my mind, but in fact I don't know if an X server is necessary.

@adele ... also, maybe this can be of interest to you: w3m is a text-mode browser that can also display images on the console framebuffer... elinks too, if I remember correctly... mplayer can play movies on the console framebuffer...

@adele search for "sixel" which is a way to display pictures in a terminal (even xterm supports it, it's not really new)

@adele After a while I thought about some mobile ssh terminal app and x11 forwarded to a mobile screen. As a secondary device for images handling. I must test it.

@adele Yeah, you can display images on the framebuffer without X running. Some instructions here:

You can even play videos with mpv.


You can start an X application as sole client of a Xorg server.

$ echo "eog > ~/.xinitrc"
$ startx

eog being the gnome image viewer, can be anything else (eg imv).

your .xinitrc could contains these two lines:

When you stop the application, it will leave X and log you out.

easiest. cause I am not sure you could start just a wayland client without a compositor.

the other option by using the framebuffer with app like fbi but never tested.

@adele Something like chafa produces better output than libcaca. Like Solene mentioned sixel graphics is the best but there aren't a lot of options for using them without X. I have gotten sixel graphics working on the terminal without X using YAFT which supports sixel.

FIM works well too and outputs images to the framebuffer. I have links to chafa, FIM and libsixel on my terminal programs page.

@kelbot thanks for these links... seems useful and correponding to what I'm looking for

@adele I have not only been down this road. This is where I live now. 😆

@Adële  Another option is

It is a terminal emulator that you can run in a virtual terminal and it handles all the backstage magic.  You can view both images and videos.

@frrobert the goal is to have no desktop environment, that's why I search tools for graphical tasks which don't need X.

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